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Calling All Tree Lovers

Sunlight shining through leaves of a historic tree at Laurel Hill Cemetery
A historic tree at Laurel Hill East Cemetery

Calling all tree lovers! I love trees. Anyone who knows me, knows that I believe trees are sacred. I even have a friend whose son refers to me as “Tree Lori,” as not be confused with any other Loris. I could gush for pages and verses about branches, limbs, buds, bark, and leaves, but at the moment, I will hold back and simply tell you about all the amazing benefits trees provide us humans.


I consulted with arboretum manager, Aaron Greenberg, of Laurel Hill and Laurel Hill West cemeteries, to learn more about the benefits specifically of big, old trees. Greenberg gives seasonal walking tours of the 265-acre arboretum that represents the combined grounds at the two cemeteries. He also volunteers his time to oversee the PA Champion Tree Program, an online repository of information about the largest trees across the Keystone State.


On its website (, anyone can locate information about the largest trees of every species of tree growing in Pennsylvania. And, if you happen to be lucky enough to know a large tree that isn’t on the list, you can nominate it for inclusion on the Big Trees of Pennsylvania Register. The largest tree of each species is considered the “State Champion.”


Greenberg says old trees provide a plethora of benefits including shade and cooling in Philly’s hot summers. Trees also sequester literal tons of carbon, the soak up extra water during heavy rains, the provide food and shelter for animals, and they improve our mental health and well-being simply by existing. Oh, and they give us oxygen to breathe. You can read more about old trees and find some stunning old trees to visit in the latest edition of 60 Hikes Philly.


And Philadelphia city planners have finally realized that one of the keys components to healthy city living is a robust tree canopy. The Philly Tree Plan, which you can read in its entirety here, is a strategic plan to equitably increase the city’s urban forest, providing especially heat prone areas with more trees to help cool them down. The plan will also hire the city’s first forester.

And Philadelphia’s City Council has been showing Philly trees some love lately, too, by drafting legislation that helps protect the trees from site clearing developers set on chopping them down. The law would impose fines for development that doesn’t follow the new guidelines. You can read about the law here.


And, you know the old saying: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. You can get free trees TreePhilly, a program through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society also provides training in tree care and maintenance and also provides free trees.

Hug your favorite tree today!


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